History Of The World Part 2

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It was the kind of day when the weather suggests you enjoy the outdoors, warm enough to ditch the heavy coats of winter and the restrictions they provide. Yet as I walked down the streets of Washington, DC, I held tight to a light sweater as I felt a cool breeze in the air. It really was one of those perfect days to sit under a tree, blanket spread with picnic regalia in all its splendor, and a good book in hand. I, however, lost all thoughts of the outdoors and the call of nature, as I stepped through the doors to the dome-shaped building which encapsulates the yesterdays and the tomorrows of our nation’s history.

Washington, DC

photo credit: littlemisswordy

With each step I took upon the tiled floors, tiny squares of intricate designs, I couldn’t help but think of all those whose footsteps graced these halls since 1793. How many men and women eagerly entered this meeting place of the nation’s legislature, with hopes of not only leaving their footprints on these tiles but their imprint on our country? If I listened closely, I could almost hear the intellectual and political discussions, words floating up and around the painted dome with its mythological and historical impressions, secrets being whispered among the collection of American art gracing the walls.

Washington, DC

photo credit: littlemisswordy.com

For hundreds of years life changing decisions have been made amid the half circle of desks in the Senate gallery and throughout this building, behind closed doors and in the presence of those whose job it is to record it for our history books. The circular theme of the building a constant reminder of how history repeats itself no matter how hard we try to avoid it, coming back full circle in another attempt to teach us the lessons we didn’t grasp the first time. There is a reason buildings such as this one are preserved at all costs. They hold our history and they hold our future.

I felt honored to walk the same path as these leaders who have shaped our nation, to sit in the very seats they sat in, to admire the artistic details on walls and ceilings and look out the windows at the same panoramic views their eyes have also seen, to stand in awe of the majestic statues of American Presidents stoically keeping watch on the history they once created.

Washington, DC

photo credit: littlemisswordy

I also couldn’t help but feel small and insignificant in this magnificent rotunda, the symbol of the American people and our government. And yet, as I looked through my camera lens at my family, positioned in the exact center of this magnanimous building something else came into focus. I saw my history and my future in their smiles. I saw my husband and I in our first home shortly after being handed the keys, slow dancing in our socks in the living room to the music in our hearts. I saw my children’s peaceful looks as I rocked them back to sleep in their nurseries night after night. I saw us teaching our children to read, to ride a bike, to tie their shoes, to love, and to live. The truth is, life changing decisions occur in our homes every day. Lessons are taught and history is written. Our homes hold our history and hold our future. Each lesson we pass down to our children, each kind word we utter to our family, each impression we make upon someone else is a step in shaping their future, our future, and ultimately our nation’s future. As I headed out past the towering statues of George Washington, Susan B. Anthony, Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, and the many others who have shaped our present, I couldn’t help but be reminded that each of their stories began at home.

Like A Well-Worn Pair Of Jeans

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They came to this country with only the clothes on their back and a light of hope in their hearts that the strongest gust of wind couldn’t extinguish. They walked away from all they knew for the promise of freedom. They left it all behind for visions of a better future for themselves, but more importantly for their children. Those brave souls made huge sacrifices for myself and my siblings, and I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for them…my parents. As with anything or anyone we leave behind, no longer accessible to us, we don’t fully bid farewell. We still carry with us a little something that will remind us of times we will never again experience.

My parents may have bid farewell to their homes, their families and friends, and the island they called home, but they held on to their language, clothing themselves in it like a well-worn pair of jeans, slipping into it and feeling the comfort of the fabric as it wrapped them in the many memories of their history and home. While my parents learned the English language of their new country, in our home, we were encouraged to speak our native language. Around the dinner table, we slipped into it easily without even realizing it. At family gatherings, children and grown ups alike easily conversed in the Spanish sounds of a faraway land.

I may not have understood my parents adamant rules on embracing our native language, but nowadays I see things clearly. Being fully bilingual has opened doors for me in many areas of my life from career opportunities to lifelong friendships. I can easily slip from English to Spanish and back again in the blink of an eye, often amazing those around me with the ease in which I do so and begging the question, “Do you think in the language you speak or do you think in one language and translate in your mind before speaking?”  To answer the question, I think in Spanish when I speak in Spanish. I think in English when I speak in English. There’s no rhyme or reason to my language of choice. I prefer to read in English rather than Spanish. I more often dream in English than I do in Spanish. However, when I pray I find I slip easily into a Spanish conversation with God…possibly because I was taught to pray in Spanish. My conversations with my mom are conducted in Spanish more often than English.

An article titled, How Speaking Two Languages Can Improve Your Brain, at About.com discusses this in further detail. According to a growing body of research, not only does speaking two languages not confuse people or slow their learning in other areas, it may actually improve your brain—carrying benefits that go far beyond communication. According to Ellen Bialystok, an internationally known psychologist and distinguished research professor at York University in Toronto, there is overwhelming evidence that being truly bilingual—speaking two languages and using them regularly—will improve your brain. For bilingual people, both languages are “always on,” always active in their brains, no matter which language they are speaking at the moment.

All scientific research aside, I am grateful my parents encouraged me to embrace our native language. I have personally witnessed those who believe everyone should speak English as it is the universal language, and frown upon those who don’t. I have personally experienced people being offended when they do not understand a conversation being conducted near them, in a language they do not understand. Thanks to my parents, when I am around someone speaking their native language, I keep in mind that those words may be the only familiar thing they still carry with them. It may be the only remnant of their homeland, helping them keep their history alive while they make a new home and create a new history in a foreign land. And, I remember what it feels like to slip into my favorite pair of well-worn jeans, the comfort they provide, each tear a memory that no amount of fading can completely erase.

If you are bilingual, do you think in one language and translate to another or do you think in the language you speak?

 

Wild Weekly Photo Challenge: Sunsets

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Photo Credit: littlemisswordy.com

If you would like to vote for my photo, click here and leave a comment:

Let’s Be Wild Weekly Photo Challenge – Sunsets

At the age of 2, he couldn’t grasp the concept of one day ending and another beginning. Every night we had a version of the same conversation always beginning with, “Mommy, when is it tomorrow?” Ever a mom, ever encouraging a good night’s sleep and rest for all, my standard response was always, “Well the sun goes down so it can be rested enough to shine on us again all day tomorrow. Once the sun wakes up and starts to shine, and starts to peek through your window, we know it is tomorrow.” Truth be told, I often followed it up with, “then and only then, should you get out of bed and wake mommy up” but I digress.

The above photo was taken on a little weekend getaway with a girlfriend at a time during which she was making some tough decisions regarding her future. I captured this photo at a spot that brings her peace of mind, a spot that fills her lungs and fills her soul. Life changing decisions can leave us paralyzed with fear…fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of being alone. And while there is hope in a rising sun, there is also something to be said for a sunset. Laying the past to rest, facing a new beginning, and the unfaltering assurance that the sun will again shine down on us tomorrow.

Connecting the Dots

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The past few days, I have been reminded of the age old childhood activity of connect the dots. Once all dots are connected you see the end result. At times, it makes you smile and others it leaves you wanting and feeling a bit ripped off. In life though, how do you connect the dots, when you can’t see the next dot? As a kid, I never gave connect the dots a second thought. Never considered the next move as I eagerly made connections from dot to dot safe in the knowledge that eight would always follow seven. I couldn’t go wrong when each step was so clearly numbered for me. But now…the steps aren’t always clear. If you start connecting dots in the wrong direction, you alter the end result. Each dot seems a crucial part of the big picture.

Photo Credit: ithinkyoureswell.com

The first reminder of this childhood game came while I was homeschooling my 1st grader. He had to connect the dots, each dot representing the answer to a math equation. Before he even started, he tried to guess what it was, sure it was Frankenstein. After much problem solving, he connected his dots only to reveal a guitar instead. The two little screws on the guitar led him to believe it would be Frankenstein. I’m sure the fact that we just celebrated Halloween had something to do with his vision as well. I thought he might be disappointed that connecting the dots didn’t reveal what he initially thought it would, but quite the opposite happened. He was thrilled with a drawing, albeit a pointy one, of a guitar. Just goes to show, life has a way of surprising us even when we think we know what’s coming. Sometimes, even if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it ends up being something else.

Photo Credit: Be Aware

Other times it is a duck! I came across To Be Aware‘s Duck series discussing how the human mind works. His eye candy for this post is a duck. Well, of course it’s a duck, but it’s a connect the dots duck! I have to admit, I found his post deep…really deep. And, I’m not sure I totally get it, probably because I’m not good at math. Whenever I don’t get something, I always blame it on math. It’s like when my kids can’t find something and I blame the housekeeper, but that’s a whole other post. Stay tuned for Housekeepers Across the Globe Unite! Where was I? Right, Duck Series is definitely worth a read so head on over there. Heck, I read it twice, and am now following his blog because I’m that intrigued. Let me know if your human mind works differently than mine. A sure sign will be if you totally get it the first time you read it.

If you didn’t get it the first time, no worries because a re-visit can be beneficial. Take Roy Lichtenstein for example. October 27 was Roy Lichtenstein’s birthday. He would have been eighty-nine years old if alive. Lichtenstein was famous for his Pop Art in the 1960′s. “Primary colors–red, yellow and blue, heavily outlined in black–became his favorites. Occasionally he used green. Instead of shades of color, he used the benday dot, a method by which an image is created, and its density of tone modulated in printing.” His art looked like a comic book scene with it’s characters coming to life through the word bubbles he often gave them. For the first time, since his death in 1997, his art is on display at the National Gallery of Art. It has been in Chicago and will travel to London and Paris next year. It seems young people are just as drawn to his work today, showing dots can be revisited and yield similar results each time.

Last night’s election results left a country divided. There are those who believe they have connected the dots for America’s future, and are already celebrating the big picture even though it remains to be seen.  There are others who don’t believe the big picture will be a positive one no matter how creatively the dots are connected…simply because they don’t believe in the artists, the dots, or the big picture that’s been promised. The truth is, none of us knows what that big picture will truly look like. We can hope for a guitar and end up with a Frankenstein or vice versa.

Wouldn’t it be nice if it was Frankenstein jamming on the guitar?

Photo Credit: cafepress.com